tv Deutsche Welle European Journal LINKTV February 22, 2013 4:30am-5:00am PST
>> hello and a very warm welcome to brussels. welcome to "european journal." good to have you with us. here's a look at what is coming up today -- italy. a trip to a prison island. russia -- the desperate life of many orphans. france -- how architects want to improve life in the suburbs. first, to turkey and its relationship with religious minorities. some are officially recognized in turkey.
jews, a greek orthodox, and armenian christians. the turkish government has made concessions to christian minorities, such as returning property confiscated a long time ago. churches, for example. that has given armenians in turkey in fresh confidence boost, but their situation remains difficult. ankara still refuses to recognize the genocide of armenians under ottoman rule 100 years ago. officially, there are some 60,000 armenians in turkey, but the numbers could be rising. in some parts of turkey, descendants of armenians are now rediscovering their identity. >> home to a population of more than 1 million, the city is situated on the turkey -- turkish/i iraqi border. it is the unofficial capital of turkey. but it was not always. between the many minuets that make up the skyline are a few church towers.
100 years ago, it was mainly inhabited by armenians. these days, most of the church as they build are mere ruins. for this insurance salesman, these ruins are symbolic. as far as the authorities are concerned, he is turkish, and yet, he identifies as armenian. he is a descendant of survivors of the armenian massacre almost 100 years ago. >> how does a rundown, desecrated place such as this one makes you feel? >> to me, it represents a great tragedy. back then, people were told that they were being deported. but on the way, most of them were murdered. it was genocide, no question. members of my own family were among the victims. >> early in the first world war, around 1 million armenians were persecuted and killed by ottoman
forces. public discussion of this chapter in history was taboo in turkey for decades. that is no longer the case, but even today, turkey denies that what happened was genocide. most survivors converted to islam and took turkish names. he was 15 before he discovered his real name. >> suddenly, i was a christian. that was not easy. i had grown up with a completely different culture. six years ago, when the first articles were published about the hidden armenians, i got in touch with other armenians. then came the questions -- where do we come from? who are we? what did our ancestors believed in? what is our culture? a growing number of people are asking these questions here in this region. >> he is one of the hidden
armenians now reclaiming their roots. he says it is high time that the history of his people was discussed openly. >> earlier, only armenians lived in these houses. >> it has been rumored that descendants of the former owners want their homes back, much to the consternation of the muslim inhabitants. >> no way. i've got nothing against it, but they want to take our houses. >> we would never allow that. we do not want that. >> it has only been the past few years that people are free to speak out about the 1915 massacre and its repercussions without risk of indictment. for a decade, they could only talk about their real identity in the privacy of their home.
to the outside world, there were muslims. even to mecca. but they never forgot their roots. >> all my forefathers were armenians, but we never dared to ask them anything. we were afraid. still, we never forgot that we were armenians. >> armenian life is gradually returning. the community has restored one of the churches with the nations. it is now reportedly the biggest church in the middle east. emma for the time being, services are not actually held here as there is yet no pastorate. once a week, locals meet next door to learn armenian -- workers, housewives, retirees.
these days, the hidden armenians no longer feel quite so alone. >> we have the feeling that we can only get help and support from each other. i can honestly say there's no one else i can trust. and the president of the armenian church association is visiting the mayor, who belongs to the pro-peace and democracy party and supports the revival of the armenian community. in his opinion, the kurds share responsibility for what happened in 1915. >> the kurdish people also played a role in this tragedy. i believe they should face up to that, but it would be wrong to blame only the kurds. >> an unusual statement from a
turkish politician. even so, the armenian cemetery is badly neglected. it is a sad sight, but at least these days, he can come here to more his forefathers without fear of reprisals -- he can come here to mourn his forefathers without fear of reprisals. >> when you hear prison island, you probably think of alcatraz of the san francisco coast or robin island in south africa. most of these places are museums today, but italy still has what you would call a traditional prison island. in our series "small world quarter may stories from europe's islands, -- "small world: stories from europe's islands, according we take you to a prison island where prisoners have more liberties
then prisoners elsewhere, but it is always a big day when a boat arrives from the mainland. >> you cannot buy a ticket. it is home to a penal colony, so anyone wanting to visit needs a special permit. a prison police speed boat doctor twice a day, weather permitting -- a prison police speedboat docks here twice a day. the journey can get pretty turbulent. passengers need their sea legs. some 50 families used to live on gorgona. today, only prisoners live here. the connection to the mainland is too unreliable. in winter, the only passengers on the boat are prison staff. with occasional exceptions.
this woman takes the day to visit her island. she does not mind its isolation. she was born and raised here. >> people who come here to work from the mainland probably find it quite a harsh place. i think it is beautiful. i got married in winter. i love the island all year round. >> she is not alone for long. her aunt always knows who is coming and going. now 86, she is the only permanent resident, apart from the prisoners, that is. she surrounds herself with memories. the walls are covered with photographs, including one of
atta's wedding day, the last time anyone got married here in decades. there are pictures of the beach. her father after a successful days fishing. but the walls are looking a little worse for wear. few houses here have central heating. >> i remember my mother used to keep a small tub filled with charcoal embers. that was our only form of heating at night. >> her family lives over the water. she visits her aunt as often as she can, especially in winter when it can get very lonely. >> i will always remember the way they used to raise the flag. it meant that the boat could not enter because it was too stormy. back then, there was a rowboat. the passengers had to climb aboard with all their baggage out on the open sea.
>> in bad weather, the islanders were cut off from the outside world for weeks at a time, making them just as much prisoners as the inmates of this building. most of the 50 convicts live here, many of them hardened criminals, but with enough points for good behavior to win them a transfer to gorgona. hear, the prison gates are only blocked from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. -- here the prison gates are only locked from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. most of the prisoners work on the prison farm. the sheep have to be fed and milked twice a day. the four men is serving 16 years for manslaughter. m on the outside, i was not able to take care of myself. here at least i have learned how
to take care of the animals. >> the other man milking a sheep is a bank robber notorious throughout europe. >> i've been deported for life. i cannot ever go back to france or anywhere else in europe. >> life on gorgona is to be the chance at rehabilitation. >> i still will not forget the evil i have done. maybe the work they do here will help me reintegrate into society, but i will carry the murder i committed around with me for the rest of my life. >> gorgona is a rare exception to the norm in italy's penal system. the inmates make sure their land is theirs properly while prisoners on the mainland languish in overcrowded cells. the warden is aware of the privileged status of the inmates and that they may be will be operating on borrowed time.
>> we are looking for outside bankers, business people from tuscany who would be interested in the inmates' products, not only the agricultural and. the goal was for the private sector rather than the present authority to pay for the upkeep -- rather than the present authority to pay for the upkeep -- rather than the prison authority to pay for the upkeep. >> so far, the only one paying for labor is luisa. gorgona's repair service. >> i cannot offer him any more than coffee. the prison authority will not allow it. otherwise, they would not send him over anymore. >> pietro in joyce the coffee and a chat if he has time -- pietro enjoys the coffee.
atta is one of the very few who can leave gorgona whenever she wants. she joins the warden for the trip back to the mainland, and she is already looking forward to her next visit. luisa is left alone once again with only the hope that the weather will stay nice and the prison police speedboat will soon be back. >> tens of thousands of children in russia are growing out what -- growing up without their parents. many of them are social orphans, abandoned by parents unable to cope. in the past, many would find new homes with foster families in western europe or the u.s., but american couples are now blocked from adopting. president vladimir putin has tightened the laws, arguing that russia can take care of her children herself, but not
everybody is convinced. and that invalid's home 90 four near st. petersburg is one of the better orphanages -- >> invalid home #four near st. petersburg is one of the better orphanages, but the children are still left alone for long periods of time. volunteers helped care for the children. they do what they can, but they would like to do more. >> if you interact with the children several times a week, you can tell that they become a bit more alert and take in more of their surroundings. >> home number four dates back to the soviet era. it houses nearly 400 children. for 10 years now, natalia has
been coordinating volunteers from germany. she says they often take better care of the children. >> russia still has a way to go. heare, an invalid is not seen as a complete person. there are many who think the children get too much care. the main thing is they are out of sight, out of mind. >> images from a children's home near moscow. this boy has down syndrome. his mother gave him up as soon as he was born. a couple from the united states wanted to adopt him, but president putin has been -- president putin's government has banned all adoptions by american couples. the official reason was that children adopted from russia have been abuse. the couple has turned to a champion of the cause of children with disabilities. >> we want to help the children. we are here to love their child.
we want to do what is best for him. our hope is that they do as well, which is not to leave him in an orphanage. >> the boy would become part of a big family in the u.s. they already have three children. children like him rarely find adoptive parents within russia. >> the children generally stay in these homes until they turn 17. >> then, that automatically go to a psychiatric hospital for adults, or in plain language, they go to in that house -- to a madhouse. one of the very few orphans who made it out of the system is
svetlana. now at age 24, she has gone back to finish school. her story was told by the state- run television channel. her mother died of alcoholism when she was just seven. she could not keep up in school, so authorities put her in a home for the mentally disabled and later in a psychiatric hospital. >> when i was put in that home, it was even worse than in an orphanage, so i ran away again. i even wanted to hide out in the forest just so i would not have to live there anymore. >> few of the more than 600,000 children in russia as orphanages will have any real chance in life -- in russia's orphanages
will have any real chance in life. many live on the streets and turned to a life of crime. the ban on adoptions to the united states has triggered controversy within russia. it is widely seen as political, and the children bear the brunt. the kremlin's child welfare commissioner has repeatedly denied such accusations. he insists the law is for the good of the children and future generations. and in my view, this step was long overdue in russia -- >> in my view, the step was long overdue in russia. we do not always have to burn all our bridges behind us before we can move forward. >> it was a roundabout way of saying that russia has to learn to take better care of its orphans, but the staff of st. petersburg home number four reacted with outrage. they say they have long been trying to improve the lives of the children in their care.
the ban on adoptions from the united states will all but kill any hope of a better life for many of these children. the care givers are frustrated. >> sometimes, i think may be there is a clever political motive behind this law. if it puts the problems on the table, may be things will start happening and things will improve step-by-step, even if it is a barbaric way to go about it. >> some american families intend to take the band of u.s. adoptions to the european court of human rights in the name of the children would have made their own -- take the ban of u.s. deductions to the european court of human rights.
>> life in the suburbs can mean a very different things. it might conjure up images of wealthy families in leafy villas, but opposite -- it also often means a lot high rises that house the less privileged. it was in such suburbs in france eight years ago that violence erupted with angry teenagers revolting against their social isolation. today, many french suburbs are still no go areas for police, but there are also created a tense -- attempts to give them a facelift, and it starts with changing architecture. and in shopping on the southeast of paris, the world seems to have been turned on its head -- >> in shopping on the southeast of paris. called urban collage, the project is designed to bring small-town flavor to prefab apartment complexes dating from the 1950's. many immigrants live in this
area. unemployment is high, and prospects are few, but this new development could change that. >> it is true. i was surprised because bungalows and town houses are something new in our district. it is quite daring, but it is a positive thing. even people who do not live here are impressed. it is the first time it has been done in this type of quarter. >> they grew up in the suburbs. they live in a dilapidated high rise -- they lived in a dilapidated house before moving in. vince are still affordable, as all 114 of the apartments qualified as subsidized housing. he's a musician. the lyrics to his songs often spoke of the social problems, but he has been inspired to write new melodies now that at age 26, he has finally got a
place of his own. >> until now, i have been living with my parents. now it is different as i have my own apartment. i did not have the chance to do this in my own building. >> the project costs 14.3 million euros, a fairly small sum, but that is part of the concept -- turned urban acupuncture, it invests in the development of small points rather than large reconstruction. it is meant to revitalize the surrounding areas as well. this architect was involved in this innovative concept. the idea came from an architecture firm where the project has earned a place in the renowned city architecture museum. >> the idea was to create a more open concept. on the ground floor, there are shops but also homes, so there
are many more addresses, engines is, passages, alleyways, and perspectives -- addresses, entrances, passages, alleyways, and perspectives. >> of locals embrace the concept remains to be seen. about the building, little has changed. this old shopping center is to be torn down, but otherwise, this does not look much like the city of the future. still, he has his own vision, a kind of musical acupuncture, if you will. a few times a week, he holds back workshops for young people -- rap workshops for young people. it is his way of combating the social utility still felt here.
>> when people are not squashed together and have more room to breathe, they are less stressed, less oppressed, which improves the quality of life. there are other things that could be done, but the architecture is a deciding factor in changing lives. >> that report wraps up this edition of "european journal." from all of us here in brussels, thanks very much for watching. we do hope you can join us again next time. you can also watch all our reports again online. the address is dw.de/ europeanjournal. until next week, auf wiedersehen and bye. captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org--